Tim Aldred - The Frazzled Freelancer

Freelance commercial writer, successfully navigating self-employment one unexpected obstacle at a time. Contact me at twitter.com/tim_aldred

Freelancers: 7 ways to love your customers

Dream clients cause little fuss, send regular work and pay on time. They make life effortless for freelancers and, sometimes, it’s easy to forget how much we appreciate them.

Don’t take your favourite customers for granted, show them a little love once in a while. You don’t need to spend big – in fact, you don’t even need to get your cheque book out – to keep the relationship healthy.

Here’s a few ideas that will let your customers know they’re important to you:

1: Thank you notes

Relationships can be difficult to build and may take time, so once you’ve found someone you enjoy working with, don’t then take them for granted. The easiest way is a thank you note, by email, text or even by letter. Repeat orders, paid bills (especially if they’re early) or referrals are all due a few words of gratitude. It’ll make them more likely to do it again.

2: Cakes at meetings

All face-to-face meetings are livened up with the introduction of cakes, or biscuits at the very least. Next time you’re having a get-together, come armed with a box. You’ll be memorable, your customer will enjoy (rather than avoid) meetings with you, and there’ll be a feel-good factor in the room, which is both conducive to getting work done and to contracts being signed in your favour.

3: Party invitations

From school kids to exclusive night clubs, invitations to parties are sought-after symbols of popularity. If your business is celebrating a milestone, involve your clients – let them know they’re part of your community. In my own experience, I have been hand-delivered or posted candles, cakes, bottles of wine and party poppers where the company wasn’t large enough to host a real party.

4: Give referrals

It’s not uncommon that, whilst you’re out networking, you’ll find people who need help in specific areas of business. Maybe they’re looking for a printer, lawyer or designer. Don’t lose concentration the moment you realise it isn’t your specific area of business, instead try to think of somebody you deal with that may be able to help. Offer to put two people in touch and they’ll both be grateful and they’ll both be more likely to return the favour in the future.

5: Offer testimonials

A lot of businesses rely on customer reviews and testimonials. I could talk all day about how good I think I am at what I do, but the moment somebody else says the the same thing it becomes many  times more powerful. So give a helping hand, offer a few kind words that your client can drop into their literature or onto their website. If you’ve used their product, give it a review. If they’re thoroughly pleasant to deal with and you’d recommend other suppliers did so too, then say so.

6: Connect on social media

This doesn’t necessarily mean Facebook friend those you deal with. That’s not necessary, and is probably too much in most circumstances. On the other hand, if they’ve got a twitter feed or they update their LinkedIn profile regularly, or if they’ve got more industry-specific page (such as Behance for designers), keep an eye on it. They might announce big contract wins, or even divulge more personal information such as birthdays or holidays. Either send a reply, or drop it into your next conversation. It’ll prove you’re in the relationship for more than the pound notes at the end of the month.

7: Be genuine

All of the above are methods I’ve seen work in the business world, but the most important point is that they were all genuine tokens of appreciation. They’re much less likely to work if you’re doing something with an end goal. You can’t turn up to a customer’s office with a cake and a hand-written testimonial and expect to be given work in return. Remember that you’re trying to foster a relationship. Be too cynical, and it’ll all work against you.

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Written by Editor on February 13, 2012 and filed in Featured, Frazzled Freelancer, Freelance Jobs, Freelancers, Opinion ,

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